Care worker sacked after BBC exposes neglect at Essex home

The Old Deanery Care Home in Braintree launches investigation after BBC Panorama report uncovers poor care

BBC Panorama
Image credit: BBC Pictures

A staff member has been fired and seven more suspended at an Essex care home after a BBC Panorama investigation found residents being neglected and mistreated.

A undercover reporter for the documentary programme filmed one woman with dementia who was mocked by staff at The Old Deanery Care Home and slapped by one worker at the 93-bed Braintree home.

Another resident with a terminal illness who needed the toilet was ignored despite her cries for assistance and one man with a chronic illness was left lying in his own excrement.

In a statement, the home, which is run by Anglia Retirement Homes, said: “We are shocked and saddened by allegations made by the BBC’s Panorama programme of inappropriate behaviour by some members of staff at The Old Deanery Care Home and apologise unreservedly for those failings.

“These incidents involved a small number of staff and are not reflective of the high standards of care which we expect and demand from all of our team. As soon as the new management team was made aware of the allegations we took immediate action.

“We hired an independent law firm to carry out a full investigation as a matter of urgency. Eight staff were immediately suspended, and have not returned to work, pending a full inquiry.

“The care worker responsible for slapping a resident has been summarily dismissed and other disciplinary proceedings will be completed shortly.”

Andrea Sutcliffe, the chief inspector of adult social care at the CQC, said: “The care shown in the Panorama programme is unacceptable. My sympathy goes out to the people affected. I am angry that the good care we know is provided is undermined when people are failed in this way.”

“We have been concerned about the Old Deanery and its sister care home, St Mary’s Court, for some time. We have responded to concerns raised by staff. We have checked up on both homes regularly. We have told the provider to make improvements.”

“We cannot always know what goes on behind closed doors but I am determined that our new inspection approach will strengthen our ability to uncover poor care and take action when we need to.”

The CQC inspected the Old Deanery on 26 February in response to concerns about the welfare and safety of service users that had led to safeguarding action by the local authority.

It found the service was not meeting standards on the sufficiency of staffing or the care and welfare of residents, though standards on service user involvement, responding to complaints and supporting staff were met.

The regulator concluded that “people’s privacy, dignity and independence were respected” at the home, but raised concerns about the quality of care planning, unacceptably long waits for call bells to be answered and a lack of suitably skilled staff.

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6 Responses to Care worker sacked after BBC exposes neglect at Essex home

  1. B Kibble April 30, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    I think it’s awful that it took BBC Panorama to highlight the malpractise that was going on at The Old Deanery. As a resident of near by town, it was general knowledge that standards at The Old Deanery weren’t great, and that it wasn’t a good place to be.

    Braintree, and the surrounding areas has an aging population, and is home to huge numbers of adults that currently, or are soon to, need residential care. The only way that provision can be made to match these vast numbers of service users is for the buildings already in existence to be brought up to standard. We have enough care home beds in the area – but not enough checks to make sure that these are good beds, and safe places for the residents to be.

    Let’s not forget though, that some bad staff and awful practise doesn’t mean that all is lost. A huge proportion of health & social care staff are brilliant are their jobs, and deserve respect for it. To deamonise the whole staffing body for the actions of a few is not condusive to resolution.

  2. Alan April 30, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

    Until Management start treating their workers with more respect and show value more (best start is to stop using zero hour or bank contracts), I know some care workers and they treatment is abysmal.
    A quote attributed to Sir Alan Cobham
    ‘The industrial world has always been full of tension and hostility, not least in these post-war decades, but ours has always been a little world of peaceful dedicated teamwork. Many people has asked me this and asked me for the secret. It is simple and one which I made sure my son Michael had grasped thoroughly before he took over: Management needs to care. You must never expect your staff to love you: why should they. Any attempt to secure their devotion would be the most disastrous folly. No, it is you who must love them. You must care for them in every way, and genuinely, not hypocritically and for your own advantage. You must take them into your confidence, you must explain what you are trying to do and what the difficulties are, you must convince them, by your actions that their welfare is your primary concern. Words won’t be enough. This is chiefly a matter of psychology, of underlying attitudes: not only words but actions will fail if they are not sincerely meant’

  3. Maurice Fordy April 30, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

    I have worked in nursing and care for 40 years now I have to say that despite what others say the industry has been in decline throughout that time. I think abuse of vulnerable people goes on in more care services than not. Our Government and Regulators do not deal with issues until this sort of thing happens. I worked in a home where financial abusewas the order of the day. I reported it but nothing was done. I left and wrote to CSCI as it was then. Outcome was nothing. I could say so much.

  4. Tina Haigh April 30, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    My mother in law is in a residential dementia home. I’ve seen things in there that aren’t right to me but they should leave some forms to fill in at the front desk so visitors can record their visit, like a survey or something. One lady wanted to go to the toilet but had to wait 45 minutes and 1 request to the staff from my brother in law, and then two requests from me after he’d left, before the lady was assisted to the toilet. I nearly took her myself.

  5. Edna April 30, 2014 at 10:31 pm #

    Safeguarding industry growth has meant exponential growth in jobs for adult social workers / services to be seen as experts in preventing abuse.

    The abuses shown in this and many other Panoraa and similar programmes, by often a small but persistent known group of care workers who ‘dominate’ both in domicilliary care and residential care, is rife.

    Where are the social workers / safeguarding teams taking proactive roles to evidence anything? We see in this programme it is concerned families who are forced to take action to prove what they suspect. Yet they are being ignored by the system.

    The CQC- what a joke- as long as it sees its checklist of documents is satisfied and and talks to the odd person it looks no further. Nor does its website list that an organisation has had any complaints raised against it, so families blindly use services and are not encouraged to report. Reporting- this needs to be encouraged through TV adverts.. Nice CQC cosy jobs is all that we see- tick box mentality, like social services..

    Andrea Suttcliffe in Panorama was not very convincing about doing anything meaningful. . I have evidenced neglect / harm / failure of sufficient training with equipment or knowledge of needs in dementia. With numerous unskilled / educated care workers working in badly managed care agencies where the owners directors are raking it in. I have sent factual information to the CQC, but the care agencies are still doing the same with the same senior staff / owners.

    When you complain about the ‘worst / dominating’ care worker, the agency / workers start to make false allegations against you to deflect attention away from them being investigated seriously- it happens more than is realised. Social workers / services personnel seem to be happy to investigate false allegations / demonise worn out carers but unwilling to seriously investigate agencies they commission- they remain bedfellows in the race to cheapest commissioning and lowest wages for the least skilled care workforce.

    We saw Joan an ex social worker in the Panorama programme being abused- I hope this will be a wake up call to social workers to start making waves- their own fateis mirrowed in Joan’s. Of course their directors and managers will have such generous state resources as pensions that they will have the best care workers / nursing homes.

  6. Edna May 2, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    By not publishing comments which are very critical of the whole system of social services / care, especially when the come from very experienced professionals, turned 24/7 carers and now the ones who are deemed in need of ‘care’ yo will encourage the anger expressed other websites.

    In the current very uncertain global political climate of public mistrust of politicians and public organisations the voice of outcry against the power imbalances and serious harm by the very care system of the most vulnerable / poor in need will grow.

    Even I since my initial seriously harmful experiences began hace seen an exponential growth in pubic derision of social work / services- well beyond the cuts. The government funded reports etc. into social work education etc. are just the tip of the iceberg.

    The programme 3 of ‘Protecting our Parents” showed up a social worker whose knowledge of options for discharging patients from hospital were no more than ones that most of us ‘very clued up’ people from other sectors are well knowledgable about and could find for clients ourselves, including advising on funding options, Have done this for parent myself- no social worker needed. Peer support / sharing of information is more accurate and powerful. So I will continually raise this o reduce government costs on social services / work.